Starting Baby on Solids
Starting Solid Food
Up until one year, your baby should drink breastmilk or formula. At about four to six months, you can begin to add soft solid foods to her diet. For breastfed infants, water and other foods may not be needed until 6 months of age. Talk with your baby’s doctor, nurse, or a nutritionist about introducing solid foods.
Your baby may be ready to start solid foods when she:
- Is at least 4 months old
- Can sit or hold her head up by herself
- Weighs at least double what she did at birth
- Will open her mouth for the spoon
Begin by feeding your baby a small amount of rice cereal on a baby spoon. At first, your baby may spit it out. This is normal. It takes time for your baby to get used to new foods and eating. Keep trying—a little bit at a time. It is okay to have a mess!
Do not put cereal or food in a bottle—it can cause choking. It can also cause your baby to gain too much weight.
Keep Baby Food Safe
- Place the food in a dish—feeding from the jar may put germs in leftover food.
- Do not put leftover food or the used spoon back into the jar—it can cause the food to spoil.
- Cover and refrigerate what is left in the jar.
- Use the food within 2-3 days of opening the jar.
If you make your own baby food, do not add butter, oil, margarine, sugar, or salt, unless your doctor has told you to. Homemade baby food is cheaper than buying prepared food. When introducing a new food, prepare and serve it without adding anything. Food should be pureed, strained, or mashed. Do not add honey to any of your child’s food before the age of one. There is a bacteria in honey that is dangerous for babies under one year.
What to Feed Your Baby
Introduce one new food at a time. Wait 3-5 days before you add a new food. Watch for signs of allergies: skin rash, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea or other change in stools, watery, itchy eyes, or breathing problems.
CAUTION: Avoid foods that can cause choking—popcorn, nuts, seeds, grapes, hot dogs, raisins, chunky peanut butter, and any other small hard foods. You can try smooth peanut butter after 2 years of age. Moisten it with applesauce or jelly and spread it thinly. Do not leave your child alone when he is eating.
Your baby is ready for baby cereals. Try rice cereal first— it is the easiest to digest. Then, you can try barley and oat cereal. Wait to give mixed-grain cereal until later.
Try mashed fruits and soft vegetables. Fruits can be fresh or cooked. At 8 months it is also time to add small amounts of protein foods, such as poultry, beans, fish, and meat. Always strain or cut them into small tender pieces. At about 8-9 months your baby will like to pick up small pieces of food and feed herself. Good finger foods include pieces of cheese, chicken, fresh fruits, and soft, cooked vegetables. Give one or two bits at a time. Let her feed herself while you are watching.
Your baby is now ready to eat many chopped table foods. Try egg yolks now, but do not give egg whites until your baby turns one year old.
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